The number 14 of the process carbon 14 dating

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In 1960, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in chemistry for this work.He first demonstrated the accuracy of radiocarbon dating by accurately estimating the age of wood from an ancient Egyptian royal barge for which the age was known from historical documents.Carbon-14 has a half-life of 5730 years, meaning that the amount of carbon-14 in a sample is halved over the course of 5730 years due to radioactive decay.Carbon-14 would have long ago vanished from Earth were it not for the unremitting cosmic ray impacts on nitrogen in the Earth's atmosphere, which create more of the isotope.Back in the 1940s, the American chemist Willard Libby used this fact to determine the ages of organisms long dead.Most carbon atoms have six protons and six neutrons in their nuclei and are called carbon 12. But a tiny percentage of carbon is made of carbon 14, or radiocarbon, which has six protons and eight neutrons and is not stable: half of any sample of it decays into other atoms after 5,700 years.

Such decay counting, however, is relatively insensitive and subject to large statistical uncertainties for small samples.

The neutrons resulting from the cosmic ray interactions participate in the following nuclear reaction on the atoms of nitrogen molecules (N The highest rate of carbon-14 production takes place at altitudes of 9 to 15 km (30,000 to 50,000 ft), and at high geomagnetic latitudes, but the carbon-14 spreads evenly throughout the atmosphere and reacts with oxygen to form carbon dioxide.

Carbon dioxide also permeates the oceans, dissolving in the water.

Measurements are traditionally made by counting the radioactive decay of individual carbon atoms by gas proportional counting or by liquid scintillation counting.

For samples of sufficient size (several grams of carbon) this method is still widely used in the 2000s.

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